Mail theft is on the rise. Despite the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service, mail carriers and other postal delivery companies, criminals are targeting delivered mail, and other posts and deliveries, in an effort to gather private information for identity theft, intercept checks and other monetary instruments, and steal delivered goods.
An internal USPS memo published recently reported a 400% increase in postal robberies since 2019, according to a November 2022 article by TheCrimeReport.org. The article further reported that an average of 2,000 stolen checks per week are sold online. Criminals are using checks and informants from banks to access information they can use to steal identities as well as bribing postal employees to sell or borrow their mail keys.
There are several initiatives you can take to help protect your mail from thieves:
- When taking your mail to the post office, use the mail slots inside the building or hand it to a letter carrier.
- Pick up your mail promptly after delivery.
- Do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight. If you are expecting a new credit card, check or other monetary instrument, ask a friend or trusted neighbor to pick up your mail for you.
- Never send cash in the mail.
- If you did not receive a check or other valuable item that you were expecting in the mail, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- Immediately notify the Post Office if you change your address. Also be sure to notify those that you conduct business with such as banks, utilities and other service providers.
- If you plan to be out of town, notify the Post Office so that they can hold your mail until you return.
- For large deliveries, ask for “Signature Required” if this is an option. If you’re not home during the day, change the delivery to your work address. Doing so will help avoid expensive deliveries being left on your doorstep and vulnerable to thieves.
In addition to these proactive steps, many neighborhoods have come together to form neighborhood watch programs. Neighbors share contact information, form group chats to let one another know about any time away, watch each other’s mail boxes and properties, and most importantly, report any suspicious activity in the area.
Lastly, review the agencies you receive checks from in the mail and contact them to see if automated credit (ACH) (also known as Direct Deposit) is available. And for those bills you are paying with a paper check, consider signing up for electronic payment or use your bank’s automated bill pay service. Using electronic means to receive and make payments decreases your risks of stollen checks in the mail.
If you are a witness or victim of mail theft, contact your local police department immediately. Consult with your local Postmaster for the most current information on local mail theft and actions they are taking to help prevent it.
*Southland Data Processing, Inc. (“SDP”) is not a law firm. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other SDP materials does not create an attorney-client relationship. SDP is not responsible for any inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.